St Albans’ Girl School v Neary 2009 EWCA Civ 1214

Mr Neary was involved in litigation with his employer, a school. He lost in the tribunal but was successful in the Employment Appeal Tribunal. However, St Albans wanted to appeal that decision and the Court of Appeal eventually overturned the Employment Appeal Tribunal decision. The school then applied for costs against Mr Neary. Costs usually follow the event. However, because he was impecunious and came before the Court of Appeal on the decision of the school, the court held it relevant not to make an order for costs against him because he was in the Court of Appeal not out of choice. It would have been very hard on him if he had had to withdraw before the Appeal hearing so as to avoid the risk of costs. The court also remarked about the amount of charges that St Albans were seeking stating that if it had made an order for costs it would have been in the sum of £5,000 inclusive of VAT a sum much lower than the figure sought by St Albans.

Key point: Employers take on impecunious applicants at their peril and indeed at their own risk as to costs.